Quick Start Guide to Online Business

Get in Business Online With These 9 Steps

Graphic designer working late at computer in office
••• Hero Images/Getty Images

With literally hundreds of options for hosting, marketing and design of your new Web site, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start. Here is your 9 Step Quick Start Guide to Getting Online.

1) Get Your Ideas Flowing

If you are still brainstorming your ideas, consider this set of 27 free e-books. Just click and view material from some of today’s best business minds, including Seth Godin, Jim Kukral, and Guy Kawasaki.

For more great ideas, check out: 21 Online Business Ideas.

2) Sign-up With Bluehost

To be in business online, you’re going to need a Web host and domain registrar. Bluehost is one of the top hosts and can give you everything in one place. It is a mid-priced service and offers unlimited everything - hosting space, email accounts, domains - the works. If you are interested in considering some others, check out the cheapest Web hosts.

Setup Your Web Hosting

If you are just getting started, you’ll likely need the basic package. You’ll be able to host a number of websites on this one package, including a number of blogs (or WordPress installations).

Setup Your Domain Registration

  • Choose private registration: Although it costs more, you’ll be happy you did. It will prevent huge amounts of spam from burying you in the months to come.
  • Consider registering for 5 years: Search engines recognize long term registrations, and reward you with higher rankings. If you are willing to register far into the future, the search engines view your company as more legitimate and solid.

As with all Web hosts, Bluehost offers many options when registering your domain. Aside from private registration and length of your registration, the other options are personal preference – but not likely needed. If you want to see other options, check out the cheapest domain name registrars.

3) Install WordPress

For ease of getting started and maintaining your site, a WordPress installation is recommended. Originally just for blogs, WordPress is now a fully functional site design and management tool. Wordpress is the engine for your website. It manages your content and allows you to easily modify the appearance of your site – with virtually no technical experience. And it's free.

4) Chose Your WordPress Theme

The theme is what gives your WordPress installation both its function and its design. It’s good to choose carefully because it can be a hassle to swap themes after you have lots of content. Many of the themes available allow you to disable or remove the blog component if you don’t need it. You can create your page with the “Pages” option.

Depending on your requirements, a free theme may work well. Check out our set of 42 free WordPress themes.

If the free ones don’t fit your needs, check out Pagelines PlatformPro theme. It is the easiest theme to use - and the most customizable. It is a true drag-and-drop WordPress theme. Check out a recent review of Pagelines PlatformPro. Or for a lower cost option, check out the Thematic Themes site. They have themes ranging from magazine styled blogs to stores, classified and travel guides. This premium theme company will likely have a design to fit your needs. Remember, the colors, logos, and layout can most often be completely adjusted within the dashboard of WordPress.

Upload into WordPress and click “Activate”. You can now customize the theme and add content. Note: When you upload the theme to your WordPress installation keep it as a zip file – just as you downloaded it.

5) Create Your Twitter Account

You’re going to need a Twitter account for your business. It is valuable for promoting your content, and for interacting with clients and suppliers.

6) Twitter Tools

Now that you’ve got a Twitter account, you should take a few minutes to learn how to get the most out of it.

First of all, you’re going to need followers. And how will you manage all those direct messages? Visit TweetAdder and try the trial version. This software will build your following of like-minded people and will manage your direct messages as well.

7) Email Marketing

Email marketing is an important component of your online business. With an opt-in email list, you’ll have a group of people eager to listen to what you’re saying. With a regular email newsletter, your visitors won’t have to remember to come back - you can keep in touch directly. Aweber has a great set of templates to easily create newsletters. Aweber also allows you to manage multiple email lists and websites with one account. Learn about email marketing options in the Email Marketing Service Review.

8) To Track Your Progress

It’s important to track your progress and see the results of your marketing efforts. Here are two great options:

  1. SEOmoz: Is a combination of free and pay tools that allow you to get the true pulse of your Web site. These can be used in combination with Google Analytics. The pay services are available for a monthly subscription fee.
  2. Google Analytics: This is a free option, and surprisingly complex. Simple to use, it’s a quick install into your WordPress installation, and you can immediately begin to track traffic. This includes top keywords, location of visitors, referral sites and popular pages.

9) Setup Social Media

Once you have accomplished the first eight steps, it’s time to move on to setting up your other social networks:

The six primary accounts you should have are: